The city of Warsaw, especially its Old Town, is decorated to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, which pitted Polish citizens and the resistance against the Nazis. The rebellion is deeply embedded in Polish memory.
Barricades on the streets of Warszawa then…
… and now. These commemorative barricades describe the tragic events of August and September 1944
Here is a short text that my daughter Basia wrote about this event:
70 years ago yesterday (August 1), my parents’ city, Warsaw, began an uprising against Nazi occupation. Regular civilians were so desperate to get out of oppression and to get their country and own government back, they themselves planned an uprising attack in secret, adopted code names, used the underground canals and sewers of Warsaw to move around and decided to launch their attack on August 1st. The uprising lasted 60 days before hundreds of thousands of the uprisers were arrested by Nazis and sent to concentration camps, and Hitler himself ordered the entire city to be destroyed by bombings.
My grandma, who lived 100 km away from Warsaw at the time, remembers seeing a huge fire on the horizon for days. What’s more, her family hid a friend who had been wounded in the uprising and she witnessed as he was caught and her father begged for him not to be executed.
I am sharing this because not only is it an extremely important memory for Polish people, for whom that time in history is still so painful and relevant (I always say it wouldn’t be a Polish gathering if a heated conversation about World War 2 didn’t come up), but also because it shows how natural of a human reaction it is to do anything to fight against oppression. We are seeing it as we speak, daily in the news. People in oppressed regions joining terrorist organizations and vowing to fight until they die because they are desperate. It is in insane to me that only 70 years ago that was Poland and most of Europe, where now it would be unimaginable for countries within the EU to declare brutal war on each other. If remembering history and keeping it alive can even in the slightest help prevent these things from repeating themselves, then it is so worth doing.
This video shows how the city remembers the uprising every year, for one minute, at 5 pm, on the first day of August . So powerful.
The entire population of Warszawa (Warsaw) was involved, including the youngest ones:
After 63 days of fighting, 200 000 people were killed and the entire city was destroyed:
One more video: